The Journey Begins

It was 10:00am on Tuesday morning and I was ready to leave and raring to go.  The last of the jobs on my extensive pre departure check list had been ticked – PACK.

Karyn was out.  Not sure where, so I phoned to check that she would be home in time for us to leave for our trip.  Following assurances that everything was under control, she eventually did arrive, and I was greeted with the usual – “I’m running a bit late”.  “What’s new” I thought.  Then the calmness of my day was shattered with 45 minutes to pick up, when Karyn decided that we should do another load of washing.  How was this possible?  We had spent the last week cleaning every single item in our possession.  We left with clothes still dripping on the air dryer in the laundry.

Our pick up was Viv, one of our bike buddies.  She wasn’t taking us to the airport, but the movies.  Yes, the movies.  Karyn had arranged a fundraising night for her Zonta club on the same date of our flight, and as she was President, she, actually WE, just had to be there.  Movie over, duty done, transfer of luggage into another car, courtesy of Sam and David, and off to the International airport.  It was a good thing we had a late flight.  We were heading to Europe, via a few days in Hong Kong.

Last time we went to Europe, we flew cattle class with the expressed desire to upgrade every trip courtesy of our frequent flyer points.  All to no avail.  It was cattle class every step of the way.  This time we were a bit smarter and decided to pay for Premium cattle class.  The seats are bigger, the leg room longer and the food supposedly better.  At double the price, you’d expect something really special, but the seats were still seats.  Now this may be ok if you are a back sleeper.  The body can accommodate.  I’m a side sleeper, (actually a left side sleeper as the right side doesn’t work that well, courtesy of multiple broken bones from my less than hallowed rugby league career).  Seats and side sleepers just don’t work.  As we exited the plane on arrival at Hong Kong airport, I noted with interest that Business class has BEDS.

We spent our time in Hong Kong, wandering the streets in a dazed sleep deprived state.  We were determined to wait until it was dark before hitting the sack.  Honk Kong was spectacular, clean, friendly and a shopper and foodie nirvana.  The highlight for Karyn was the afternoon tea at the Peninsular Hotel.  Very old world and very expensive.  For me it was the History museum.  Without putting too fine a point on it, in relation to the Opium wars and most other events of the time, my ancestors, the British were bastards.

The flight to Paris was a repeat of the first, only longer.  This time, I decided to replace attempted sleep with movie watching.  The movies were great, with ARGO the standout. But I was still in a seat.  It’s actually difficult to decide whether going premium cattle class is worth the extra expense.  It’s a little like hopping on an eight thousand dollar road bike after riding one at half the price.  Do you really notice that much difference?  Now, Business Class has beds.  That’s different.

Another early morning arrival into another International airport.  This time it was Paris and the extensive police presence, all armed with automatic weapons, reminded me that we were in a very different part of the World.  We fought our way through the crowded airport, the train journey and the metro, to our hotel for the night.  Karyn and I are still carrying backpacks – Two each actually.  The big heavy one on the back and the lighter day rucky on the front.  We are actually quite mobile, though a point worth noting for future reference is that everyone else seems to wheel their luggage around and carry nothing.

We are now safely embedded in our Paris Hotel room waiting for it to get dark so we can finally hit the sack again.  Karyn describes our room as a cross between a disco and a brothel.  The lighting and the decor are something to behold.  We do have great views however and it does have a REAL bed.

Tomorrow is day one of our bike ride to the Flanders fields.  We are going to visit some of the forty six thousand Australians who didn’t get to come home after WW1.  And here is me carrying on like a pork chop about the various levels of comfort on international flights and hotel rooms.  Rather interesting perspective isn’t it?